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Emanuel Ax, Beethoven, and The Year 1917

Dec 01 - Dec 03


Emanuel Ax performs Beethoven’s vivacious Piano Concerto No. 2. Still’s Darker America explores themes of sorrow, hope, and prayer in the lives of Black Americans. Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12 gives a dramatic musical account of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and is played by our Orchestra for the first time on these concerts. Rafael Payare conducts. 

Emanuel Ax, Beethoven, and The Year 1917


7:30 PM




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2:00 PM




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8:00 PM




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Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall


2 Hours with Intermission

Program To Include


Darker America


Piano Concerto No. 2



Symphony No. 12, The Year 1917


  • Rafael Payare


    The 2021–22 season marks Rafael Payare’s third as music director of San Diego Symphony, and in January 2021 was appointed the next music director of Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, beginning in the 2022–23 season. He previously served as principal conductor and music director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 to 2019, and appeared with that ensemble at the BBC Proms twice, in 2016 and 2019. He now holds the title of conductor laureate in recognition of the vast artistic contribution he gave to the Orchestra and City of Belfast during his five-year tenure.

    Payare began the 2021–22 season with the San Diego Symphony by inaugurating the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, its stunning new open-air venue. He gave his first concerts as music director designate of Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, opening their season with concerts at La Maison Symphonique as well as Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Further highlights include debuts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Houston Symphony, as well as his subscription debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

    An inspiration to young musicians, Payare has forged a close relationship with the Royal College of Music in London, where he visits every season to lead its symphony orchestra, and has led projects with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas, and Filarmonica Joven de Colombia.

    Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies with José Antonio Abreu in 2004. He has conducted major orchestras including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Having also served as principal horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors such as Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, and Lorin Maazel. In May 2012 Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition.

    In July 2012 he was invited by his mentor, Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia; in July 2015 Payare was appointed the festival’s principal conductor and conducted performances of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet as well as the performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 held in Maazel’s memory.

    Learn more about Rafael Payare
  • Emanuel Ax


    Born to Polish parents in what today is Lvov, Ukraine, Emanuel Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He made his New York debut in the Young Concert Artists Series, and in 1974 won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. In 1975 he won the Michaels Award of Young Concert Artists, followed four years later by the Avery Fisher Prize. In the fall of 2021 he resumed a post-COVID touring schedule that included concerts with the Colorado, Pacific, Cincinnati, and Houston symphonies, the Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Cleveland orchestras, and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics. His 2022–23 season will include a tour with Itzhak Perlman “and Friends,” as well as a continuation of the Beethoven For Three touring and recording project with Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma, this year on the west coast. Ax has been a Sony Classical exclusive recording artist since 1987, and following the success of the Brahms Trios with Kavakos and Ma, the trio launched a multi-year project to record all the Beethoven trios and symphonies arranged for trio. He has received Grammys for the second and third volumes of his cycle of Haydn’s piano sonatas, and made a series of Grammy-winning recordings with Ma of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for cello and piano. He also contributed to an International Emmy-winning BBC documentary commemorating the Holocaust that aired on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Ax is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary doctorates of music from Skidmore College, New England Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and Columbia University.

    Learn more about Emanuel Ax

Special Thanks

The December 1 concert is supported by Edna Mae and Leroy Fadem, loyal subscribers since 1977.


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